It’s 2022 and time to dive deep into some issues: food e-commerce (buying produce online; how fast food delivery affects corner stores and bodegas), food and health (fewer food recalls; connecting hospital patients to community resources; using SNAP benefits to buy prepared food) and food and culture (plant-based pork and religion; food as a lifestyle; what restaurant menu language and archival recipe repair has to do with nutrition education).
Will shoppers buy produce online? This was an unanswered question when online grocery shopping first took off. A new DoorDash report provides an answer: produce was No. 1 in online ordering from October 2020 to June 2021.
What is the impact of quick food delivery on corner stores & bodegas? A NYC 20-minute podcast episode looks at the proliferation of fulfillment centers/‘dark stores’ for quick delivery apps in some NY boroughs. Issues include their legality, loss of local owned groceries/community, food safety and delivery worker burnout.
Food and health
Why have there been fewer food recalls during the pandemic? When compared to pre-pandemic levels, food recalls decreased during the pandemic; USDA saw more of a decrease than the FDA. The pandemic did impact plant inspections. Interestingly, there weren’t spikes in foodborne illnesses. CDC tracking of foodborne illnesses is also down perhaps due to the public avoiding medical care for foodborne illness during the pandemic. Experts are wondering: Did food recalls decrease because food was safer? Or were some foods not being recalled? Or something else?
Can hospitals help link patients to community resources? ‘Health Beyond the Hospital’ is a new effort to address social, behavioral and environmental factors affecting hospital patients. Every patient at a RWJ Barnabas facility will be screened and given information, referrals for support. It is the first U.S. effort of its kind.
Should SNAP recipients be able to use benefits to buy prepared food? Six states in the last 2 years (MD, MI, CA, AZ, RI, VA) have joined an SNAP option (Restaurant Meals) to allow older adults over 60, the homeless and those with disabilities to buy hot, prepared food at select low-cost restaurants. Why these groups? They often don’t have the skills, space, equipment or physical abilities to prepare and cook food. Illinois and New York have allowed local social service agencies to apply for the program. Interestingly, the option has been around since 1978. States certify restaurants that participate and can identify nutrition standards that must be met. Restaurants must offer discounted meals. Hot, prepared foods from grocery stores aren’t part of the program. Challenges include those who object to allowing the use of benefits at fast food restaurants and the higher cost of the food as well as implementation.
Food and culture
How does plant-based pork ‘fit’ in religions that ban pork? This depends on who you ask. The largest kosher certification group decided against certifying Impossible Foods’ plant-based pork but may revisit the decision. The word ‘pork’ was the sticking point as an entirely plant-based product could be considered kosher. And Muslims may differ about the acceptability of these products within their religious beliefs. Read about deeper issues such as cultural assimilation and confusion for those who follow kosher rules.
Food as a lifestyle…is it a ‘good’ thing? It depends on the example. Social influencers, including celebrities, increasingly support healthy lifestyles that define how we identify. Societal changes are also involved including interest in wellness, wearables and apps that track what we eat and environmental awareness that drives interest in a plant-based diet. ‘Welcome to Dunkin’ World’ describes how a brand becomes part of identity with help from influencers and merch/swag especially time-sensitive items of particular interest to those under 30. Magazines and gyms are now replaced by social media as marketers of healthy living brands on Instagram which create communities and experiences. Some other food-related lifestyle examples…the Whole30 book that morphed into a movement and lifestyle; LaCroix and Red Bull.
Restaurant menu language and archival repair of recipe sites. What does menu language and archival repair have to do with nutrition education? The name of a menu item influences how we perceive it and the culture it represents. As nutrition educators we recognize that recipes we develop and share do the same thing. Consider the article’s suggestions of ways to preserve the culture of recipes.
Recent racial and societal events have prompted some online recipe sites/magazines to acknowledge their need to begin archival repair of recipes. They acknowledge not providing cultural context or credit and labeling ingredients negatively. This article provides additional compelling reasons to understand the importance of recipes and uphold their cultural context and origins.